Saturday, September 1, 2001

View From the "Net"

The name of this column is the West Coast Offensive, so naturally I was in attendance at the Network Associates Coliseum last night, along with 32,000 friends and acquaintances. The game was disappointing in many ways. Not much pass rush by the Packers, not much rushing offense, no rushing defense come to mind. I would rather have had the Packers look really sharp in this
game, which they did not. But still, this was the final pre-season game, on the road, and many of the starters played only a couple of series, at which point the game was tied, 7-7. And the Raiders are no slouches, either. They were in the AFC Championship game last year, after all, and they clearly have a "Super Bowl or Bust" mentality this year. So, on the whole, I was not that discouraged by the performance.

And there were some good things, too. Seeing Corey Bradford catch that bomb from Favre, and then running away from the defensive backs for an 87-yard touchdown. (Admittedly, Anthony Dorsett took the wrong angle in trying to run him down, but still. . .) Maybe Bradford is finally ready to make some noise this year. Robert Ferguson got involved in the game, after enduring some ripping in the press this past week, and caught 3 passes for 59 yards before being knocked out of the game on a vicious, way-too-early shot that will surely draw a fine of a week's pay for the perpetrator.

And most of all, Henry Burriss. Our 3rd string QB finally got to throw a pass, 24 of them in fact, and he was fun to watch. He was wild at times, he seems to have no touch pass in his repertoire, and he and his receivers seemed out of synch at times. But he is mobile, has a cannon for an arm, and really looks like he has a future in the NFL. He looks like a big improvement over Billy Joe Tolliver.

Other observations from the stadium that probably did not find their way on camera:
  • In the second half, I noticed a family of Packer fans in the first row of seats, behind the Packer bench. From where I was, it looked like a woman with her two kids, the daughter dressed in Packer duds and the son going incognito. The woman seemed to be trying to get the attention of Packer players, so I watched to see if she had any success. I finally did see Brett Favre wave in the direction of someone in the crowd, and I think it was toward this family. Then, later, I saw a security guard taking something from Bill Schroeder and deliver it to this family, so my suspicion is that they succeeded in getting Billy's autograph.
  • The most animated group of Packer fans in my vicinity was a family,a woman and several kids. The woman was wearing a Na'il Diggs jersey. In this part of the country, a Na'il Diggs jersey is definitely a special order item. Could they have been family members?
  • In the closing minutes of the game, the police came out in force to make sure people keep off the field. I noticed Barry Stokes having an extended and apparently amiable discussion with a member of the California Highway Patrol.
  • After the game, Eric Allen (the other defensive back beaten on the Bradford bomb) brought his two young kids onto the field to meet Brett Favre. It was a cute scene.

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